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The fact is that the Egyptians, like other nations of the earliest Eastern lands, never dreamt of separating religion and secular life into watertight compartments, and therefore never dreamt of using language, writing and speech merely as a vehicle of communication. Just as they thought that names had magical powers, so they symbolized in their hieroglyphic alphabet the principles of that mysterious knowledge which was imparted behind the closed doors of the Mysteries.
He alone who had been led into the presence of the divine Osiris, the conqueror of "death," who made men and women "to be born again" (as the Book of the Dead designated the aim of the high grades of initiation) could explain and expound the final significance of hieroglyphs—the most perfect system of literary symbolism in the world.
Herodotus, too, himself an initiate, somewhere confirms, I believe, that hieroglyphs were entirely sacred and symbolical in their hidden meaning, and that this latter was known only to the highest degree of the order of priesthood. While lamblichus, another ancient initiate, has written that the secret hieroglyphic language was used by the gods themselves.
I shall throw out a hint, in the form of a question, as to the principle involved in the secret meaning of hieroglyphs.
In hieroglyphs the sitting figure classifies the person as among the gods: therefore it is usually shown as part of the written name of Egyptian deities, and is displayed among the hieroglyphs written over their sketched portraits. Now, why did the Egyptians adopt a sitting figure and not a standing one?
Rather than risk the scorn of academic Professors of Egyptology, who would be perfectly justified in casting contempt upon a free-lance's intrusion into their sacred precinct, beyond proffering this hint, I shall leave the reader to supply his own answer.
The work of the great Egyptologists—within its own field —deserves every praise. But for them—and destiny—the inscriptional treasures which lie upon temple walls and papyrus texts would never have been translated.
The part which destiny played in this discovery is striking. Had Napoleon never invaded Egypt those walls and texts might still have remained unread. Napoleon was, in a most extraordinary manner, himself a man of destiny, and he affected the fortunes of every kingdom, every man, and every subject